I'm a 'dreamer' (but I'm not the only one). I love to play the 'what if' game. So I thought I'd include you all in this game. I know the season starts tonight, but I was reviewing the Wings salary going forward and it got me thinking about a couple of things:
1. The contracts for Zetterberg and Franzen are the best contracts of for any player in any sport. Period. Length, amount, annual rate, cap hit. I know Holland gets tons of love from around the world, but I also have to give props to the players for agreeing to them.
2. I think Datsyuk will sign a 5 yr extension (replacing the final year of his current contract) after next season. I'm guessing it will pay $7M for the first 2 years of the extension then $6.5M, $5.5M, and $5M. At the end of that contract, he'll be 39 and probably be a year to year guy like Lidstrom for a couple years, but I don't think he'll command more than $5M nor less than $3M.
3. I know Bertuzzi isn't likely to come back after this season due to age, his contract is not prohibitive. I'd resign him after this year max $1.75M and minimum $1.25M. He's been a solid presence in the locker room, been a threat on the ice, and doesn't complain about being a role player. He knows young guys are going to pass him by.
4. I think Dan Cleary is most perfectly paid player in the NHL. He's worth every penny of the $3M he makes. But I don't really think he's worth more than that. He's not a star player. He's not even a borderline star. But he does everything very well in the Red Wings system. He plays up when he's with the stars and he makes lesser players better. It's a catch-22 because when he plays with Dats and Z, you think "crap! Danny is amazing" but if you step back and look closer, he probably wouldn't fit in other teams systems but he's absolutely perfect for Babcock's.
5. Darren Helm is going to be an RFA, and while that helps the front office in negotiations, I highly doubt Helm even wants to leave Detroit. That being said, he's still due a pretty substantial raise. I'm thinking he's going to get in the neighborhood of $3M for 2 years, then a bump to $5M with a total package being 6 years.
6. I think Brad Stuart is worth maximum $4.5M for 3 years, then 2 more at $3.75M.
7. Kronwall has a lot to prove this year. With Weber being UFA next summer, Kronwall has to prove he can fill Lidstrom shoes as the leader of the blueline. He doesn't have to be Norris-quality, but he needs to lead by example. He can't be caught out of position, he has to hustle non-stop, he has to play the game without any mental errors, day in, day out. It falls on him to be that guy. If he fails, I would expect Holland to chase Weber. If Kronwall performs, I still expect Kenny to make a run at Weber, but not an 'at all cost' sort of run. Either way, Kronwall will be worth $6M-$6.5M for 4 years and 2 more at $4.5M.
8. I don't expect Hudler back with Detroit next year. He could score 50 goals and I still wouldn't expect him back. Here's why: If Hudler bombs, he won't be resigned. If he drops 50 he'll price himself out of what he's really worth. If he plays on par with what Holland and Babcock want from him (27/38/65), he'll expect a decent raise from the $3M he already makes. But I don't think he's worth the $3M he makes because he hasn't proven consistency. If he signs a 1 year deal and repeats with around 65 points, he'll stick his tongue our and say "I told you so" and take a big payday from someone like Toronto. I'd rather see him traded to Toronto or Anaheim or Phoenix or NYI for a 3rd or 4th round pick. I'd even take a 5th and 6th rounder for him.